Nema to dump plastic bag stocks after Aug 28

Environment secretary Judi Wakhungu with Nema director-general Geoffrey Wahungu. FILE PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NMG
Environment secretary Judi Wakhungu with Nema director-general Geoffrey Wahungu. FILE PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NMG 

Manufacturers of plastic carrier bags face huge losses after the environment watchdog said it will treat as garbage any stocks left by August 28, even as MPs demanded a reversal on the ban.

The National Environment Management Authority (Nema) director-general Geoffrey Wahungu, said Wednesday the manufacturers would face criminal charges for non-compliance with the plastic bags ban.

Prof Wahungu said the implementation will be done jointly with counties, the Director of Public Prosecution and magistrates.

“My authority is keen to implement these strategies to the very end so as to enhance a clean and healthy environment for all,” he said.

Prof Wahungu was speaking at the stakeholder forum on plastic carrier bags ban at the United Nations, Gigiri in Nairobi.

Revoke ban

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee has opposed the ban imposed by Environment secretary Judi Wakhungu and petitioned Parliament to have her gazette notice revoked.

MPs said the notice was not in compliance with provisions of the Statutory Instruments Act 2013, which require parliamentary approval of any notices or regulations published by Cabinet secretaries.

But Prof Wahungu has maintained that “all plastic bags in stock by August 28, will become waste”.

Retailers or manufacturers found using nylon paper bags after the ban will face a fine of between Sh2 million and Sh4 million, or a jail term of between one and two years, or both.

Prof Wakhungu said her ministry was committed to seeing every environmental policy implemented in the best interest of the environment, including the ban on plastic bags.

“Everyone has a role to play to make sure that the country goes into the implementation of this ban with an open mind to go the extra mile for the good of the environment and the citizens of this country,” she said.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards has already approved several materials to be used as alternative packaging after the ban on plastic bags takes effect in August.

Nakumatt Holdings and telecoms firm Safaricom have launched biodegradable bags to be used as alternatives to plastic paperbags.